Buyer’s Guide for Compression Stockings
Choosing a compression stocking doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply follow these three steps:
- Choose the appropriate level of containment and compression.
- Consider sizing needs.
- Choose your brand.
For additional information see:
- Common Questions
- Helpful Articles
Compression stockings are garments worn throughout the day just like any piece of clothing and allows the wearer to not be tethered to a compression machine, while still benefiting from compression therapy. People may use compression for mild swelling, aching or fatigued muscles, for post-operative uses and even for lymphedema. With such a myriad of uses, it is important to choose the right compression stocking for your individual needs.
Compression stockings range from knee to waist high in length and deliver specific compression amounts to stimulate circulation throughout the legs. Compression stockings are used in cases of edema, general leg swelling and pooling of blood, and as an effective means of preventing stasis ulcers. The compression garments on Vitality Medical are also available in arm sleeves as well.
Choosing an Appropriate Level of Compression:
There are several levels of compression designed to give you the individualized therapy that you require.
- 8-15mmHg: energizes tired legs and feet, can improve circulation and helps to prevent swelling. Provides a light compression to help with mild symptoms of vein disease.
- 15-20 mmHg: improves circulation, tired or fatigued legs, mild swelling and can be beneficial during pregnancy.
- 18 mmHg: common compression rating for anti-embolism stockings, beneficial for non-ambulatory patients.
- 20-30 mmHg: Improves circulation, tired or fatigued legs, mild to moderate symptoms of vein disease, swelling during pregnancy, and moderate varicose veins.
- 30-40 mmHg: Improves circulation, tired or fatigued legs and moderate to severe swelling. Improves the symptoms of Venostasis Ulcers, Spider Veins, Varicose Veins and Stasis Dermatitis.
Choosing an Appropriate Level of Containment
When vein disease symptoms occur, you need to select the correct containment for optimal therapeutic benefits. Think of containment as a spectrum. On the low end of the spectrum, we have stockings and socks that are designed to give a very light compression and low containment. Low containment stockings are made from a more flexible material than high containment stockings. These are ideal for those that are not exhibiting symptoms of vein disease, but would like to prevent them.
On the highest end of the spectrum, we have compression stockings that are firmer, thicker and designed to provide the best treatment that a stocking can provide for moderate to severe swelling and lymphedema. Now, keep in mind that the compression and containment are different systems of measurement, so within each level of containment you will find multiple compression levels. Containment Levels (Not all products included)
- Low containment stockings: Sheer & Soft, Comfort, Juxtalite
- Moderate Containment Stockings: CEP, Harmony, For Men
- High Containment Stockings: Active, Plus, Juxtafit, Forte
Styles of Compression Stockings, Sleeves and Socks
Not all compression stockings are equal, depending on your specific needs you may want a few different styles of compression garments. Take into account what you will use them for, what your lifestyle is and your style preferences.
For example, if you are purchasing compression stockings because you were instructed to by your physician and you will be in bed during recovery, then an anti-embolism stocking may be ideal for you. See Common Questions for further information on Anti-Embolism stockings.
If you are purchasing compression socks to prevent everyday leg fatigue, choose a style of compression sock or stocking that matches your daily wardrobe. Choose from stylish compression stockings for women that look similar to a normal dressy stocking, compression stockings for men that fit discreetly under a pair of pants, or even knee high compression socks for men or women. These will be on the lower end of the containment spectrum.
If you are purchasing these compression socks or stockings for endurance, consider an athletic sock. These include Ski socks, running socks, golf socks or a compression sleeve.
Finally, if you are purchasing compression hosiery due to lymphedema or swelling in the arm, consider an arm sleeve or gauntlet. Juzo makes circular knit compression sleeves and lymphedivas makes arm sleeves and gauntlets in a variety of fashion styles.
Compression stockings come in a variety of styles for every lifestyle.Sigvaris features the allure line, which is the most similar to regular pantyhose. However, if you are purchasing compression socks for sport-related purposes, Medi’s CEP line comes in the most unique colors.
Compression Stockings Applications
- Anti-Embolism Socks: Use for preventing deep vein thrombosis, promoting increased blood flow in the legs and lower extremities, and wearing after surgery or prolonged bed rest when chances of developing DVT are highest.
- Arm Sleeves, Gloves and Gauntlets: use for containing swelling in the arms, promoting the circulation of lymphatic fluid, minor cases of arthritis and minor burns.
- Application Aids: Butler, Butler Off and Gripper gloves.
When measuring for your compression stockings, measure the widest point of your calf or thigh, the circumference of the ankle, and down the back of the leg. Measure either from the buttock to the floor or from the back of the knee to the floor, depending on the style of stocking.
If you are in-between sizes, it is better to go up a size than down a size; however, if you need to go up more than one size, you are better off getting a custom garment made. For custom garments, contact customer service.
See these sizing charts below to help with sizing:
- Jobst Ultrasheer, For Men, Opaque and Relief
- Jobst Pantyhose Sizing Chart
- Mediven Plus & Forte Sizing Chart
- Mediven Sheer & Soft, For Men, Comfort and Active Sizing Charts
- Sigvaris Compression Stocking Sizing Chart
Better fit, means better therapy:
Choose a stocking that is as close as possible to your actual measurements. The more precise the fit, the more accurate the compression will be, and as a result … better therapy! Graduated compression is based off of circumference measurements, not shoe size, nor height, nor weight. Any compression based off of these other mentioned measurements are not considered proper therapy for correcting damaged veins.
Mediven offers the most Ready-to-Wear Sizes in compression stockings. Most compression stocking companies offer anywhere from 3-5 off the shelf sizes in circumference measurements. However, Medi’s ready-to-wear sizing chart offers, in most cases, up to 7 off the shelf sizes. What does this mean? It means that most patients don’t have to go custom, but can still get a “custom-like” fit!
However, if you are very tall, you may be more interested in Jobst. Jobst carries compression stocking and sock sizes that can fit people that are up to 6’6″.
Choosing the Right Brand
There are so many brands to choose from. To help you navigate the waters, we have highlighted some of the features of the top brands: Mediven, Jobst, and Sigvaris. For a quick comparison chart, skip to the Bottom of the Page
Moisture wicking technology:
In order to help control odor, bacteria, fungus and overall comfort compression stockings need more than the basics. Moisture wicking compression socks and stockings release trapped moisture that could make compression stockings uncomfortable. Mediven offers moisture wicking technology in all styles, Sigvaris offers moisture wicking in their athletic lines only. Jobst offers moisture wicking in their Activewear and Sensifoot lines.”Clima Comfort” Technology
This is a unique technology to Mediven products, The skin on the human body is the largest organ and protects us against environmental factors, as well as regulates temperature and water balance. The moisture on the skin caused by perspiration must evaporate quickly, particularly in the summer time when it is hot; rapid evaporation is key to the skin staying fresh. During the winter time, we need textile fabrics that absorb the moisture and transport it away from the skin surface to ensure the skin doesn’t freeze and stays dry and comfortable. Clima Comfort ensures a reliable climate exchange between the skin and the garment all year round. It accomplishes this through a specific knitting technology that absorbs moisture immediately and then transports it quickly to the outer surface of the garment.
In a study conducted to demonstrate this technology, Medi’s stockings were compared to competitors to measure water evaporation through the fabric while simulating the sweat secreted by the skin during physical exercise. The results showed that due to Clima Comfort, Medi has the best climate exchange between the skin and compression garments. Comfy foot technology in some products that allow easier donning and doffing actions.
A number of regulations are in place for compression products. Medi, Jobst and Sigvaris brands have sought and received certifications:
– FDA registered
– ISO certification 13485:2003 standard
ISO certification 13485:2003 standard specifies requirements for a quality management system where an organization needs to demonstrate its ability to provide medical devices and related services that consistently meet customer requirements and regulatory applicable to medical devices and related services.Accurate Compression Levels, Tested and Proven by a Non-Biased 3rd Party Resource:
Low Profile Seams
Because seams in compression stockings may cause irritation, especially in individuals with sensitive skin or diabetes. Some brands use a low-profile seam to help prevent irritation. These are Jobst and Sigvaris. Due to the low-profile seams and high quality threads, Jobst is the number 1 doctor recommended compression brand.
Guarantees on Select Brands:
Most stockings companies will tell you “if you purchase the stockings, and especially if you open and/or wear them, you cannot exchange them!” Whether it is size, compression level, style, damage or application issue (such as tearing, ripping, snagging, etc.) they will not replace them. However, Medi offers a 30 day guarantee on all of their products! This means if you are not completely satisfied with any Medi product, you can get it exchanged for a different Medi product within the first 30 days of your purchase.
Q: Why do people wear compression?
A: There are various reasons why someone might wear compression but a there is a common reason. Over 30 million Americans suffer from what is called, chronic venous insufficiency (also known as “CVI”). Other reasons might include conditions like lymphedema.
Q: What is “CVI” and what are its symptoms?
A: CVI is defined at the inability to pump blood in the veins back to the heart. Vein walls can become stretched, allowing blood to pool in the surrounding leg tissue. There are various reasons why someone might have CVI, but below is a quick list of some of the symptoms:
- Tired, heavy-feeling legs
- Leg pain from prolonged sitting or standing
- Swollen ankles at night
- Varicose or spider veins
- Tingling, numbness, burning, or cramping in legs and feet
- Discoloration in the skin
- Open sores or ulcers in the lower leg
- History of vein problems in the family
If you or someone you know has one or more of these symptoms, there is a good chance CVI is the reason.
Q: What is graduated compression and how is it different than TED Hose (or anti-embolism stockings)?
A: White Anti-Embolism stockings (often called TED’s) are designed for patients who are lying down the majority of the time. They provide a slight amount of compression that is consistent in pressure along the leg, but are not considered “graduated” compression. Graduated compression is tighter at the ankle (where blood typically pools to when veins are stretched), and then gets less and less tight as it goes up the leg towards the heart. This helps support the weakened vein walls and help perform the “pumping” action in the calf muscle to help push blood back towards the heart.